Majority of US gun owners believe mass shootings are part of life! Are you one of them?
On the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, YouGov surveyed gun and non-gun owners around the country.
Five years ago, America bore witness to one of its most painful tragedies: 20-year-old Adam Lanza, a teenager who suffered from Asperger's syndrome, depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, walked into Sandy Hook elementary school and fatally shot 20 children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members. He had previously shot and killed his mother before driving over to the school and committed suicide before the authorities could get to him.
The immediate aftermath of the shootings saw the debate about gun control in the country renewed with vigor, with calls for making the background-check system universal, and for federal and state legislation banning the manufacture and sale of certain semi-automatic firearms and magazines. Because of the lobbying power of the National Rifle Association (NRA) as well as pushback from guns rights advocates, all such efforts ultimately failed.
On the anniversary of the shooting, CBS News in partnership with YouGov asked citizens various questions regarding the gun situation in the country and unsurprisingly found that guns rights' activists and gun control advocates share vastly differing opinions.
For the survey, 2073 U.S adults were interviewed and the sample was then divided according to gender, age, race, education, region, party identification, and gun ownership based on the 2016 General Social Survey and included an oversample of 871 gun owners.
Amongst questions asked were those such as 'what guns mean to America?' and 'what does each side think the other side's end game is?,' but the most surprising answers were when they were asked their opinions on mass shootings.
51% of gun owners said that they believed mass shootings such as the one that took place in Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and Sandy Hook Elementary school are to be accepted as a part of free society. The other 49% indicated that those shootings are something we can prevent if we put in the effort. When the same question was asked of non-gun owners, a surprising 33% still said that the shootings were a part of free society, with the rest suggesting it could be avoided.
When gun owners were asked what guns meant to America, 61% said it made the country 'free,' 59% were of the opinion that it made America 'safe,' and 55% said it made the country 'strong.' The same question when presented to non-gun owners painted an entirely different picture and showed the vast gulf in opinion between the two sides making gun control such a contentious issue.
Non-gun owners said they felt guns made America 'dangerous,' (55%) and 'scary,' (38%) with only a few (30%) suggesting it made the country safe.
The survey also revealed the biggest issue surrounding the debate: both sides grossly overexaggerate the other side's motives. 71% of gun owners believe gun control supporters are trying to give the government control over people, with 67% believing that they want all their guns taken away. On the flipside, most gun control advocates feel they are trying to promote public safety (62%) with less than half (38%) saying that the push for gun control is trying to take away traditions or a way of life.
For these gun owners, the right to bear arms is just as important as freedom of religion, almost as important as freedom of speech, and can singularly decide which candidate they vote for depending on their gun policies. Nearly half of gun owners say they have voted against a candidate because of their stance against guns, while on the other side, only one in five gun owners have done the same. Gun owners are also a lot more active politically, with it more likely that they take action on the issue by contacting a congressman or donating money to an organization than their counterparts.
76% of gun owners feel that any legislation controlling guns will ultimately lead to taking away of all guns, with another 69% saying that they do not like the government having a database on gun owners, proving a roadblock to the implementation of universal background checks. An overwhelming majority (86%) also believe that these laws, if they're implemented, will do nothing to stop criminals.
For a majority of these outspoken gun owners, a gun represents the ability to protect and defend themselves from crime, but that it also represents responsibility and freedom - especially those who own a weapon primarily out of tradition or for hunting purposes.
When asked what physical threat they felt they needed to defend themselves from, 87% answered with criminals, muggers, and thieves, with another 60% saying they wanted to defend themselves against terrorists. 20% also said they were protecting themselves from domestic violence, friends, and family members.
Non-gun owners, both men and women, feel the that guns are one of the nation's biggest problems. Seven in ten women who don't own a firearm feel gun laws should be made stricter, and nearly half the women non-gun owners feel the country would be safer if no one owned guns.
One thing that both sides are in agreement on are the factors behind gun violence: most feel the onus is on the individual, with irresponsible gun owners, people with mental illnesses, gangs, and criminals responsible for the violence more so than guns themselves. They also shared similar opinions when it came to concerns about gun violence at their children's schools.
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